Salem County Health Department
98 Market Street, Salem, NJ 08079
RABIES FACT SHEET
For Further Information Contact:
Carla Kephart (856) 935-7510 x8304
What animals get rabies?
Any mammal can get rabies.
The most common wild animals that get rabies are raccoons, skunks, bats, foxes, and coyotes.
Domestic mammals can also get rabies. Cats, cattle, dogs and horses are the most frequently reported rabid domestic animals in the United States.
How can I protect my pet from rabies?
There are several things you can do to protect your pet from rabies.
First, visit your veterinarian with your pet on a regular basis and keep rabies vaccinations up-to-date for all cats, ferrets, and dogs.
Second, maintain control of your pets by keeping cats and ferrets indoors and keeping dogs under direct supervision.
Third, spay or neuter your pets to help reduce the number of unwanted pets that may not be properly cared for or vaccinated regularly.
Lastly, call animal control to remove all stray animals from your neighborhood since these animals may be unvaccinated or ill.
What happens if my pet (cat, dog, ferret) is bitten by a wild animal?
Any animal bitten or scratched by either a wild, carnivorous mammal or a bat that is not available for testing should be regarded as having been exposed to rabies.
Unvaccinated dogs, cats, and ferrets exposed to a rabid animal should be euthanized immediately.
If the owner is unwilling to have this done, the animal should be placed in strict isolation for 6 months and vaccinated 1 month before being released.
Animals with expired vaccinations need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Dogs and cats that are currently vaccinated are kept under observation for 45 days.
How do people get rabies?
People usually get rabies from the bite of a rabid animal.
It is also possible, but quite rare, that people may get rabies if infectious material from a rabid animal, such as saliva, gets directly into their eyes, nose, mouth, or a wound.
How soon after an exposure should I seek medical attention?
Medical assistance should be obtained as soon as possible after an exposure.